Posted on: August 14, 2008 6:43 pm

Dead end at the deadline? Not quite ...

Ah, the trade deadline -- a time for all the contenders to outmaneuver each other on their road to Fantasy glory while all the non-contenders pretty much just stay out of their way.

Except in a keeper league. In a keeper league, the deadline matters to everybody.

Even those who fall out of the race -- which I admit I did in my keeper league, painful as it may be. Hey, don't laugh. I drafted Travis Hafner and Carlos Pena for my starting lineup and Rafael Soriano and Manny Corpas for my bullpen (in a league that counts saves 10 points each, no less), and three of my four keepers -- Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Rollins and Erik Bedard -- got injured right away.

Yeah, you could say I'm just making excuses. But so did Hank Steinbrenner, and everyone loves him now.

Anyway, I fought the good fight, swung a few deals along the way, and made up some serious ground in the standings. But with the trade deadline approaching Saturday and my team four games behind the last playoff team with only four weeks remaining, I decided to cash in my chips and play for next year. Otherwise, I'd have to go 4-0 and count on the other guy to go 0-4, and I'm already losing this week.

I'd never been a seller at the trade deadline before -- hey, you don't get this job by rebuilding -- but the goal seemed pretty simple to me: stock up on as many first-rounders as I could. Keep in mind I play in a Head-to-Head league with four keepers, no penalties. I don't lose draft picks or auction dollars for keeping players. I just keep the four guys I want most, no strings attached.

I already had A-Rod, who I still project as the No. 1 overall player next year. Why not go after the guys I project second and third? Why not target Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley? Both would probably go in the first round no matter what positions they played, and they happen to play two of the weakest positions in Fantasy.

I made Utley my No. 1 priority because I already had Rollins, so if I couldn't get Ramirez, I could rest easy knowing I still had an elite Fantasy shortstop. And Utley just so happened to belong to a contender. What luck.

Originally, I offered the contender -- we'll call him Contender A -- Brandon Phillips (who I acquired two weeks earlier just in case I faced this scenario), Chipper Jones and A.J. Burnett for Utley. He insisted on me adding Brian Wilson to the deal, which made no difference to me, but I warned him the other contenders might think a 4-for-1 trade crossed the line of "preserving competitive balance." Ultimately, we came to this agreement:

I got:
2B Chase Utley
RP Trevor Hoffman
SP Manny Parra
OF Jay Bruce

Contender A got:
2B Brandon Phillips
3B Chipper Jones
SP A.J. Burnett
RP Brian Wilson

I don't think he even had to give me quite as much as he did, but whatever. I've never known myself to ask for less when someone makes me an offer. Old habits, I guess.

About this time, I noticed another owner in the same position as me make a couple moves to fortify his team for next season. He didn't aim quite as high, though. He still traded with contenders -- and two different contenders than the one who traded me Utley -- but he targeted sure-fire keepers who recently suffered season-ending injuries.

Rebuilder A got:
OF Carl Crawford

Contender B got:
SP Roy Oswalt

Contender B didn't really need a pitcher, but obviously Oswalt stands to help him more this year than Crawford would have, considering the latter will miss the rest of the season following hand surgery. Crawford had lost a bit of his luster as a keeper anyway, though I still expect him to go in the first four rounds next season.

Rebuilder A got:
OF Carlos N. Lee

Contender C got:
OF Matt Kemp

Obviously, no contender would accept this trade under normal circumstances, but Lee (wrist) doesn't stand to help Contender C for the rest of the season. With all the other contenders making moves, he kind of had to make one too.

And you have to love that ripple effect -- the fact that three contenders gave up significant building blocks without really gaining ground on each other. Hooray for no collusion.

So with Utley in hand, I looked to require Ramirez, who belonged to another non-contender. That made it tougher. I had to somehow give him something for the future while still taking something for the future.

Fortunately, after the Utley trade, my potential keepers looked as follows: A-Rod (duh), Utley (duh), Josh Hamilton, Carlos Quentin, Lance Berkman and Russell Martin. Notice a problem? I had way too many. Meanwhile, the guy who owned Ramirez had Ramirez (duh), Mark Teixeira and ... um, Edinson Volquez? Justin Verlander?

Aw, this is like taking candy from a baby.

I got:
SS Hanley Ramirez

Rebuilder A got:
OF Josh Hamilton
SS Jimmy Rollins
C Russell Martin

It looks ridiculous. In a vacuum, I gave up too much, but this trade didn't happen in a vacuum. I had too many keepers, and the other guy didn't have enough. So I gave him some of my excess for an even better keeper. And no one else in the league has any right to complain about his haul because he's out of contention. It's not like I gave him the pieces he needs to go surging into the playoffs.

And now I get to keep A-Rod, Utley and Ramirez. Scary. As for that fourth keeper, I haven't decided yet. I'll probably keep Quentin, but I could always plug in Berkman if any of the other four suffer a Joel Zumaya-like offseason mishap, God forbid.

Man, falling out of contention is fun. If I don't win the league next year, I'll cry little girl tears.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 28, 2008 6:08 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2008 6:10 pm

How good is second place?

Over the last week, I've come to the painful realization that I might finish second in all of my expert leagues.

Some might call that a triumph considering everyone in an expert league expects to win. I, however, call it a travesty.

To invest half a year in pursuit of a goal only to finish one iota short -- that hurts. And when you do it across the board, you feel across-the-board hurt.

So why not do something about it? Why not make a trade to get my team over the hump instead of just submitting to the status quo? I want to. Really, I do -- inaction is the death of any Fantasy team -- but I have a conflict in timing.

Just because I know I have a problem doesn't mean the timing is right for a trade. I also have to know I can live without something and know someone else could use that something.

But I don't see that opportunity right now in most of my leagues, certainly not in my NL-only Rotisserie league. And while I'd normally have the luxury of waiting a week or two to see if the landscape changes, I don't anymore. The trade deadline is approaching. It's now or never.

In that NL-only league, I have an obvious need -- pitching -- but no excess to trade for it. Sure, I could try swapping one of my lesser hitters for an unappreciated middle-of-the-road starter like Jason Bergmann and hope for the best, but what good would that do? This is my last chance. I have to make it count, and to do that, to acquire somebody major without using excess, I have to trade somebody major -- somebody like Hanley Ramirez.

Of course, Hanley has played a critical role in me ranking so high offensively, making pitching my obvious need. Without him, who knows what would happen? I might rapidly lose ground in the hitting categories and, if my pitcher hits a slump, sustains an injury, or doesn't get any run support, not make up enough ground in the pitching categories to compensate.

In short, I face a fundamental dilemma: Would I rather finish second or shoot for first and risk finishing fifth or sixth?

I honestly don't know. If I decide to make a trade, I'll fill you in on it, but right now, I don't know what to do. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments section below.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 24, 2008 9:57 pm

Harden, Volquez, Peavy -- Buy or Sell

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The last time I did a rendition of Buy or Sell -- that's right: I have a new baby -- we found Johan Santana's name at the top of the list of most traded players in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. Well, now that I've come back for Phase 2, there he remains.

Why would anyone not want this guy?

The top six most traded players in Fantasy:
Johan Santana
Is he old? No. Is he hurt? No. Is he fat? No. Is he anything that might give anyone cause for concern in the coming weeks? No. Is he the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball? Well, not statistically -- not yet, anyway. But he pitches for a contender, strikes out three times as many batters as he walks, and has a history of performing better in the second half. I have nothing against Roy Halladay, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia and -- who else? -- Cole Hamels, but I wouldn't hesitate to trade any of them if someone offered me Santana. He just has too much history and hasn't performed poorly enough this year to distance himself from it. Sure, his 8-7 record doesn't look great, but his luck has to turn eventually. After all, he goes at least seven innings more often than not, which is more than anyone can say for Jake Peavy. Count me among the buyers.

Rich Harden
Ah, Harden -- owner of some of the most beautiful stats I've ever seen. That 2.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 11.3 strikeout rate really make him out to be one of the best pitchers in Fantasy Baseball. But you also have to consider another stat: those six trips to the DL in four seasons, making his 15 starts this season equal to his amount from the last two seasons combined. He tempts fate every time he takes the ball and stomps up the side of the mound, each start potentially his last. Certainly, he has Fantasy value even with the risk, but if someone wants to pay ace value for him, why not listen?

Carl Crawford
Like Santana, Crawford had a spot on this last time, but he's only gotten colder since then. His .269 batting average makes his chances of finishing under .300 for the first time since 2004 pretty likely, and his .689 OPS makes owners in leagues that hardly reward steals wonder if they should even own him. I admit his prospects have looked better, but if you sell him now, you sell him for less than his actual value. When he gets hot again, his batting average will rise, and his stolen bases and power numbers will follow as the number of opportunities (in this case, hits) increase. And he has the potential to get really hot, as evidenced by his .358 batting average after the All-Star break last year. Stick with him.

Edinson Volquez
I love this move and all the people who make it. I'd kiss them on the lips if I could. And if I had the foresight to draft Volquez in one of my leagues, I hope I'd also have the foresight to trade him now. See those 122 2/3 innings of his? His career high is 144 2/3. That gives him -- what? -- four starts before he slows down, if he hasn't already (5.20 ERA over his last five, anybody?). Now, if you do decide to trade him, keep in mind this isn't a panic maneuver, but a shrewd one. Don't sell him for less than you'd sell one of the best pitchers in Fantasy Baseball. You want to cash in on his maximized value, so don't slip into the mindset that you have to get rid of him before it's too late.

CC Sabathia
Depending on how much his owner wants, I'd happily buy Sabathia right now. If he sees his 10-8 record and 3.30 ERA and decides those numbers make him less than a Fantasy ace, swoop in for the kill. Sabathia has three straight complete games since his move to the National League, making him like Roy Halladay except he strikes out a batter per inning and allows fewer runs. Oh yes, I said fewer runs, despite him having a higher ERA. Don't underestimate the impact of Sabathia's dreadful April on his cumulative totals. He clearly trumps Halladay right now, and I came within an eyelash of ranking him the No. 1 starting pitcher in all of Fantasy Baseball earlier this afternoon. Buy, buy, buy.

Jake Peavy
Does anybody trade hitters anymore? Other than Crawford, apparently not. I don't know what angle I can take with Peavy that I didn't take last time. I like his ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. I hate that he pitches for the Padres and has a history of arm problems. In Fantasy, I'd rather own Santana or Sabathia, so if someone wants to buy Peavy as the second-best starting pitcher in Fantasy (how he began the season), I'd hear him out. If someone wants to sell Peavy because he no longer sees him as an elite option, well, I'd hear him out too.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 22, 2008 4:04 am
Edited on: July 22, 2008 4:05 am

Bookkeeping and the logic of strikeouts

First, we need to do a little bookkeeping. If you don't like bookkeeping and just want straight Fantasy Baseball, skip ahead to the dashed line below.

I realize I've blogged only twice since the All-Star break, and those of you accustomed to me blogging every day might find that a little disconcerting.

But you should know I haven't abandoned you. I haven't abandoned the blog. I still love it more than I suspect I'll love some of my children.

Only the bad ones, mind you.

I have -- for lack of a better term -- neglected the blog in recent days because my responsibilities here have expanded greatly even since the start of baseball season. Quite simply, I've gotten more to do without getting more time to do it. Something's gotta give, and when I find myself routinely blogging at 4 a.m., I think we all know what that something is.

Look, I don't like it. In a perfect world, I'd just write a bang-up blog entry every day and go home. But the world, as most of us have come to learn by now, is not perfect.

So here's what I'll do: I'll still blog four days a week, which is really only one less day than before. I'll skip Saturday because I have to write the Hitting Planner, which is kind of like writing an encyclopedia. I currently have Sunday and Wednesday off each week, bringing our final tally to ...

Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: no blog
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: blog

… except I also have Tuesday off this week, meaning no bloggy tomorrow.

OK, sorry for that drawn-out and possibly boring process, but I know if certain people don't know when to check, they might stop checking altogether. And I like having people read my blog. That's kind of the point.


I haven't taken a trade question in a while, and I found one that happens to touch on my philosophy for starting pitchers. Let's give it a go:

Looking for some advice on a trade. I am in a Rotisserie keeper league, and keepers maintain the same salary. I am in the lead overall, third in wins (very close) and ninth out of 11 in strikeouts. I have an offer where I would trade Joe Saunders for Felix Hernandez, and their salaries are both at $1. I am not worried about the keeper status, but I'd lose wins with Hernandez. Any thoughts?
-- Dino Diviacchi

I have many thoughts, Dino. This mind never shuts off.

Specifically on your trade, I think you should make it without hesitating a second longer. Don't even wait to read the rest of this response (but I hope everyone else does).

See, I like to classify starting pitchers into two fundamental categories: those that get wins and those that get strikeouts. The crucial difference between the two is that strikeout pitchers can sometimes get wins but win pitchers can never get strikeouts.

Following the strict logic of that statement, without getting distracted by the baseball terminology and any biases that go along with it, you obviously want the pitcher that gets strikeouts.

And I think we know who between Saunders and Hernandez gets the strikeouts. You implied yourself you'd get Hernandez to improve your strikeouts. I just wanted to point out that, by getting Hernandez, you wouldn't necessarily hurt your chances of improving something else too.

Sticking with Saunders, you would. He gives you wins, and if the wins ever stop, he gives you nothing. You could argue he helps your ERA and WHIP, but the difference between his contribution in those categories (3.05 and 1.14) and Hernandez's (2.95 and 1.23) is negligible.

OK, so why might Saunders stop getting wins? Luck, for starters. The Angels only score so many runs, and they might start scoring less for Saunders and more for someone else. He won't have any control over it. Sure, he can help his chances by pitching well, but if he allows even one run, the game's out of his hands.

But I have even more concerns about Saunders than the raw logic of the above argument -- concerns that might also affect his wins. I have reason to believe his 3.05 ERA and 1.14 WHIP might not last much longer given his pedigree and track record. He has no history of pitching like this in the majors, in the minors or anywhere else. Meanwhile, he does have a history of slowing down in the second half -- a short history, but a history nonetheless.

And if he slows down, even just a little, he could conceivably end up with stats like a 3.43 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and an 18-8 record -- still good numbers, but ones that hurt your ERA and WHIP, give you only six more wins, and don't at all help you in strikeouts.

You have to make that trade. If by looking at those projected final numbers for Saunders, you wouldn't interpret he had a second-half collapse, then it's really a no-brainer. Saunders has to pitch only so bad to make the trade end up looking so good.

And I think, Dino, even you can say yabba-dabba do to that.

That's all for now.
Posted on: July 12, 2008 2:09 am
Edited on: July 13, 2008 1:16 am

Quentin and I -- it's destiny

If only I could find the words to commemorate this moment.

If only I had the ability to express my emotions. If only I had a forum in which to make them known.

Oh wait ... I have this blog. And CBS pays me to express myself. Ha ... my life rules.

So what happened? I'll tell you; just give me a moment to collect myself.

OK, you know Carlos Quentin? I got him back.


In case you've only recently begun reading this blog and have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain. I fell in love with Quentin following the 2005 season. His 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio made my heart skip a beat, and his .943 OPS made it turn somersaults. I saw in him the next Lance Berkman, and I've stated before Lance Berkman represents everything I want a player to be.

So when my oldest, most competitive league instituted a minor-league system in 2006, I knew who I wanted to draft -- Quentin. I had to have him then and there. Shoot, I had to lock him up for life.

And I got him. I got him, stashed him and waited. And waited and waited. I waited for two years, riding every wave of emotion along the way. I reveled in his major-league call-up in 2006 and cringed with his shoulder tear in 2007.

And every step along the way, I retained optimism. Other big prospects came and went, but I never even looked their way. I had what I wanted and would forever remain faithful to Quentin.

Or so I thought.

But something changed after he returned from that shoulder tear. His walks dropped. His strikeouts skyrocketed. His .647 OPS would have made David Eckstein blush. By all outward indications, he had become a different player.

I felt like I hardly knew him anymore.

But I still didn't give up. I wouldn't. I couldn't. I had made a commitment, and I still saw the potential in him even if no one else did.

I thought the move to Chicago might give the two of us a fresh start -- you know, remind us of the way things were. I thought it might give him a chance to get off the bench and do something rewarding.

But nothing changed -- not at first, anyway. The White Sox kept touting Jerry Owens as their everyday man in center field, leaving Quentin with nowhere to go but the bench.

A 25-year-old, third-year player ... on the bench. How embarrassing.

I decided then and there nothing would ever change. I couldn't keep doing this. I couldn't waste the prime of my life on a bench player. I had to move on.

So I did move on, cutting Quentin for Colby Rasmus. He didn't make me feel the same way Quentin once did, but he did make me feel secure, and I needed that. I needed some security.

And I felt better. I thought I had made the best decision for me.

Then, Quentin ended up in the starting lineup ... and proceeded to hit seven home runs in April.

What had I done?

My heart sank. I knew I had betrayed not only Quentin, but myself. And as punishment, I'd have to watch someone else benefit from my investment and consequent impatience.

It hurt in a way Fantasy Baseball never should. With every home run he hit, I lost some of my ability to love.

I've spent so many sleepless nights regretting that decision, wondering why I couldn't have waited just a little bit longer. I'd given him so much already.

All I wanted was a second chance, and finally, after months of negotiating with Quentin's new owner, I got it.

I gave
Vladimir Guerrero

I got
Carlos Quentin
Aaron Harang

When making a deal in Fantasy, I generally want to end up on the side that acquires the best one player -- in this case, Guerrero. But the potential for Harang to rebound in the second half put me over the edge, especially since I currently rank sixth among 10 teams and probably won't make the playoffs without a boost somewhere.

Would I have traded Guerrero for Quentin straight-up? Probably not. As much as I love Quentin, Guerrero has maybe the best track record in baseball. He certainly puts up numbers more consistently than Alex Rodriguez, with Albert Pujols maybe his only equal. But something about Guerrero hasn't sat right with me this year. Sure, he's begun to come around lately after a slow start, but through most of his career, his batting average never faltered from April to September -- certainly not like it did through the first two months of this season. Was it age? Was it a sign of decline? Might his batting average finish around .280 or .290 instead of .310 or .320? I didn't want to wait and find out -- not when I play in a keeper league and Quentin has his whole career ahead of him.

Besides, pulling the trigger allowed me to get a restful night's sleep for the first time all season. I would have traded anyone just for the peace of mind.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 8, 2008 7:30 pm

Buyer's remorse

Some e-mails get a little too long for Dear Mr. Fantasy. Some provide me with ammunition for my blog on days when I don't have any earth-shattering ideas. This one does both. Plus, it was written by a guy who shares his name with a former Braves prospect that didn't pan out, so I have a soft spot.

I recently made the following trade, then I started to think, "Heck, it wasn't broke; why did I try to fix it?"

Am I crazy? I gave Lance Berkman, Joe Mauer, Mike Lowell, Felix Hernandez and Brandon Morrow. I got A.J. Pierzynski, Justin Morneau and Alex Rodriguez. My top remaining pitchers are Josh Beckett, Justin Duchscherer, John Lackey, Edinson Volquez and Javier Vazquez, but I still wonder if I'm crazy.

-- Mike Kelly, Harmony, R.I

Um … you're crazy. Your only saving grace is that you got the best single player in Rodriguez, but even that doesn't count for much considering you gave up Berkman. So you upgraded a little at third base, downgraded a little at first base, downgraded a lot at catcher and threw away a near ace in Hernandez and an emerging young closer in Morrow. Yeah, I have a hard time defending that deal.

But that doesn't make it unfair -- a lot of people confuse the two. Just because I can look at a deal and say I'd prefer one side over another doesn't mean the deal shouldn't stand. You should have to give up an arm and a leg to get A-Rod; I just don't think you should have. See the difference?

And you say you didn't have a real need? Your team wasn't "broke," as you put it? Can I assume, then, that you lead your league or at least don't trail the leader by much? This deal looks more like one a rebuilding team would make in a keeper league.

But you made it, so try to make the most of it. Who knows? If any one of those hitters you dealt gets hurt, you suddenly have the better end of the deal.

And to be fair, for as much as I condemned your doing, you certainly didn't wreck your team. You got two good players in Morneau and Rodriguez, and I can envision a few scenarios where your team actually improves as a result of this deal. I just wouldn't have made it or recommended you make it.

That's all for now.
Posted on: July 3, 2008 7:21 pm

Santana, Bruce, Crawford -- Buy or Sell

You know, I wanted to pull out a regular feature today -- the one where I examine the top players traded in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues (I'm thinking of calling it Buy or Sell) -- but I don't want to end up talking about the same cast of characters. You've probably gotten tired of hearing "Justin Verlander will come around eventually." I know I've gotten tired of saying it. Stop trading Verlander, people.

Oh look. They have. Guess we can revisit the tried-and-true after all.

Johan Santana
Santana has gotten a lot of negative attention in Fantasy this season. I blame disgruntled Mets fans who built him into something he isn't. He is perhaps the best pitcher in baseball. He isn't a one-man team. In short, the Mets have problems, but none of them involve Santana. Has the two-time Cy Young winner disappointed Fantasy-wise? Maybe a little. I'd expect more than a .500 record, and his 1.22 WHIP seems a little high. But why did everyone all at once decide he no longer fits the description of a second-half pitcher? He had a 3.98 ERA in the first half of 2005 and a 3.78 ERA in the first half of 2004, the first year he won the Cy Young. Compared to those years, his current numbers look like an improvement, and I still can't think of a pitcher I'd want more in Fantasy. Consider me among the buyers.

Aaron Harang
I think we all know why Harang ended up on this list. He pitched like a drunk in June, compiling a 6.00 ERA -- his worst for a single month since 2005. Still, he hasn't walked an unreasonably high number of batters, and he continues to rack up strikeouts. I wouldn't view his June (and in fairness, end of May) as anything more than a longer version of his usual cold streaks. Yes, he has a few every year. Why else would his ERA end up on the wrong side of 3.50? Count me among the buyers.

Jay Bruce
Well, I would have counted myself among the sellers back when Bruce had a batting average over .500 and a three-game homer streak. I remember advising a co-worker who owned him back then and wanted to trade him. He managed to fleece another owner in his league for John Lackey in a one-for-one trade. I might have settled for A.J. Burnett, personally, but the guy had the diligence to find an even better deal. Good for him. Actually, great for him. I can't remember the last time I saw the sell-high strategy executed to such perfection. On Wednesday, Bruce hit two home runs, and he has his batting average up near .300 again. Another hot streak looks on the horizon. If you wait just a little longer for when he gets burning-hot again, you might snag a Lackey for him. So yes, I'd still sell on Bruce, but wait a little while first.

Carl Crawford
Crawford hasn't hit below .300 in a season since 2004, but he hasn't finished a game with a batting average that high since April 27. Still, a quick look at his situational stats from the past few years shows his performance this year doesn't come without precedent. He hit .285 before the break last year and finished at .315. He hit .284 before the break in 2005 and finished at .301. I don't remember any widespread panic either of those years. His slugging percentage has lagged a bit, but he's still on pace for 15 homers. If you can find someone willing to sell low, which I assume the buyers in these cases have, I'd buy.

Jake Peavy
I generally don't make a habit of buying pitchers with arm issues, and Peavy missed time earlier this season with a strained right elbow. I suppose this one really depends on the price tag. Peavy still has the stuff to finish as the best pitcher in Fantasy, so I'd obviously want him, but I don't think I'd trade Ben Sheets for him. I certainly wouldn't trade John Lackey or Cole Hamels for him. Mark Teixeira? No. Jimmy Rollins? No. If I can get Peavy for a bargain, I'd do it. Otherwise, I can't justify the risk for a pitcher who probably won't even win many games pitching for the lowly Padres. On the flip side, I wouldn't settle for anything less than the guys I just mentioned if I owned Peavy and wanted to trade him.

Adam Dunn
Dunn has delivered the home runs as always, his 21 putting him on pace for exactly 40 for the fourth straight season. His batting average looks pretty rough at .223, but can you honestly expect much more? Sure, he hit .264 last year, but he hit .234 in 2006 and .247 in 2005. If you can't handle the drain on your batting average, then you can't handle owning Dunn. Find someone who thinks he can rebound to hit .260 and sell.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 2, 2008 7:04 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2008 7:07 pm

Capps creates a closer conundrum

In my last blog, I talked about trading away two closers in a Rotisserie league where my lead in saves contributed to my lead overall.

I acquired Takashi Saito in a separate deal to soften the blow and figured I could stand to drop a spot or two in the category for as much as the trade helped me in others. The plan was all fine and good and seemingly worth the risk except it relied heavily on my continued use of Matt Capps -- the same Matt Capps who we all learned Wednesday will miss the next two months with a shoulder injury.

Not good.

Suddenly, I find myself in a position no first-place team should -- scrambling. In the span of a few days, I went from having four closers (Joakim Soria, Jose Valverde, B.J. Ryan and Capps) with a combined 77 saves to two closers (Saito and Ryan) with a combined 29. That kind of turnover would drop me a spot or two in the category in a period of weeks, not months.

So I need a quick fix, a band-aid of sorts to act as my third closer until the real one returns. The obvious choice would be the reliever replacing Capps for the Pirates, but then again, the Pirates haven't made that reliever so obvious. Damaso Marte has the stuff for the role and even had consecutive seasons with 10 saves or more in his earlier days with the White Sox. Then again, he also pitches left-handed, and managers typically avoid using left-handed setup men as closers -- especially ones with splits like Marte, who has a 2.19 ERA against left-handed batters compared to a 4.13 ERA against right-handed batters. Of course, he's actually surrendered a lower batting average (.212) to right-handers, but so many managers feel safer going by the book and then picking an isolated statistic later to defend their rationale. Still, the waiver wire doesn't have any real closers to offer, so I'll make a small bid for Marte.

The better prize is Dan Wheeler. His statistics (1.88 ERA and 0.91 WHIP) and experience with Houston last year suggest he can handle the role, and considering the Rays will take their time with Troy Percival after he aggravated the same hamstring injury from earlier, Wheeler might buy me as much as a month. I wouldn't call him a No. 1 or 2 Fantasy closer with Percival sidelined -- and he might only keep the job for two weeks -- but with no legitimate closers on the waiver wire, he's a no-brainer addition.

Of course, if anyone in the league outbids me in the FAAB process for either of these guys tonight, I'll have to resort to Plan B, which probably involves me making another trade. I fully expect Jason Isringhausen to keep the closer role once he regains it, but his owner in this league might have grown tired of waiting out his slow return to ninth-inning duty and part with him for cheap. Sounds like a prime target to me.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com